The Hilton Hotel
New York, New York
October 29, 2021
* * *
Venerable Hierarchs and Reverend Clergy,
Honorable Members of the Archdiocesan Council,
Esteemed Senators for Orthodoxy and Hellenism,
Gracious Ladies of Philoptochos,
Dear Archons of the Order of Saint Andrew,
Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ,
With a profound sense of gratitude and filial devotion, we are deeply honored today to welcome the Spiritual Father of us all, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, to this first, joint meeting of the Archdiocesan Council, Philoptochos, the newly established Senators for Orthodoxy and Hellenism, and – for the first time – the Order of Saint Andrew, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
I earnestly feel that it is particularly appropriate for the Archons to be present with us, as their vision for a global endowment of the Mother Church is being celebrated this very evening — only just a few days in advance of the thirtieth anniversary of the enthronement of the longest-serving Ecumenical Patriarch in history. The Archons have come forward to fulfill a dream that many of us have had for a very long time. And we commend them for their vision, energy and commitment to make this Foundation a reality.
Today, we bring the entire plenitude of the Church into the venerable presence of His All-Holiness, to receive his Patriarchal blessing and wisdom. As the leading Eparchy of the Ecumenical Throne, it is our responsibility to bear all our strength and resources to support the global ministries and initiatives of peace and reconciliation that are shepherded every day by His All-Holiness.
In fact, we are preparing for our own anniversary — the centennial of our Sacred Archdiocese of America, which constitutes a time for retrospection, as well as a time for vision. Reflecting on the past, we can be deeply proud and grateful for the accomplishments of our forebearers — both clergy and laity alike. The Greek Orthodox people who came to America were truly apostles of the Orthodox faith. And from Asia Minor, Greece and Cyprus, they carried with them to these shores the Orthodox Faith, which has been formed in the crucible of the martyric Church of Constantinople.
Many of these forerunners landed in America passing in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty. And their first candle was lit in the little Church of Saint Nicholas on Cedar Street — the only house of worship destroyed on 9/11. And now, in just a few days, His All-Holiness will grant us the special blessing of opening the doors of our rebuilt Saint Nicholas Shrine, and convey his extraordinary paternal and Patriarchal benediction on this Church, which is now of truly global significance.
Indeed, whether in times of plenty or times of scarcity, in times of strength or times of weakness, in times of increase or times of diminishment, the Holy Great Church of Christ has always been — and will continue to be — the shining beacon showing us the path to salvation.
Thus, my friends, we express our lasting gratitude to His All-Holiness for the opportunity to review and renew the charter of our Sacred Archdiocese. We cannot only rest on the laurels of those who came before us. We must have a vision and a plan for the future, in order to make our the Church in America the spiritually vital Body that it is called to be. Only then, can we expect to hear the words of our Savior, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”[*] Only when we have set our sights on the things that are above, can we order our ecclesial life below — in accordance, of course, with the order of Heaven.
Therefore, our meeting here today has the highest of purpose, because we shall hear from the highest authority and personage of our Church, His All-Holiness. His words are a lamp for our direction as a Church, and a light unto our path forward. [†]
Ὁ ἔχων ὦτα ἀκούειν ἀκουέτω! [‡]
Please rise for the Ecumenical Patriarch.